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Tribute to a mentor

If I learned anything from Bonnie Thrasher, it was that a great introduction is vital to pulling readers in. She would probably mark this up with red ink but no amount of thinking or editing will construct the introduction she deserves.

I still clearly remember the day I stormed out of the communications building at Arkansas State University and called my dad to yell about how this new teacher was expecting me — and other students — to miss work for a city council meeting. Who did she think she was, making me miss out on money for a city council meeting, of all things?

A year later, I was still going to those meetings. A little less reluctantly this time because I was sitting next to that teacher, cracking jokes about agenda minutes and how badly I had to pee but was too afraid to disturb the meeting.

After hardly a semester into the journalism program, I learned Thrasher, like me, loved cats. So much, in fact, that she had 26 of them, fostering them and spaying and neutering the cute little critters. My best friend and I begged her relentlessly to allow us to come to her cat-cave and cover ourselves in fur and kitty kisses. The semester we graduated she finally granted our wish, gave us her address and allowed us into her home. I was in awe of the part of the house she had sectioned off strictly for her felines. She was a tough piece when it came to school but I saw her passion in caring for these animals with no other home. I was grateful to have her as an adviser.

My senior year, I fought tooth and nail with other professors, graduation advisers and probably every single administration faculty at ASU over switching my degree, making up courses and completing my thesis. Thrasher was there every step of the way. More often than not she gave me the hard truth, but she was patient and understanding. She saw what I was going through and offered every solution possible to get me to walk across that stage to receive my diploma. While several of my teachers left a lasting impact on my education, Thrasher was definitely at the top of the list when it came to guiding me to my career.

Oftentimes I felt like a failure because I wasn’t finding job openings. Thrasher kindly passed applications along to me. I felt terrified driving to Hot Springs for the interview that eventually landed me my current job. Thrasher was ecstatic for me when I told her I would be moving and working for the newspaper. She truly cared about each and everyone of her students and did everything in her power to educate us on not only journalism, but the juicy gossip on the department’s employees (don’t worry, your secrets are safe with me.)

I remember the first journalism convention I traveled to in Chicago with other Herald members, and Thrasher of course. I took her instructions of, “You have to go to at least 10 sessions and write about them,” very, very seriously. I went to those sessions, sleep deprived and hung over, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t turn that essay in on time.

Senior year, New York convention? I sure didn’t go to the required amount of sessions and I’m fairly certain I never turned the essay in. In fact, I didn’t even turn in the last assignment for Thrasher’s class. Guess who still passed with an A.

Despite that, I learned practically every ounce of journalism knowledge from her. I don’t say that to minimize what my other professors taught me in the least. I certainly owe my degree to a handful of others at ASU. But working with Thrasher on the Herald gave me more real-world experience than I would have received not working on the paper. I understand why she pushed us so hard and I am so incredibly glad she did.

I could write a novel on this great woman. And I hope one day I will because she sure as hell gave us enough stories about her adventures to make a bestseller. How lucky I am to have studied under what I consider to be one of ASU’s best professors. I promise to have one more mixed drink for you, fellow crazy cat lady. Cheers.

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One thought on “Tribute to a mentor

  1. Pingback: Colleagues, students, others salute the late Bonnie Thrasher | College Media Review

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